Please note, the Australian Government have launched a campaign to prevent Australians from inadvertently contributing to child exploitation through the practice of orphanage tourism, including by participating in misleading volunteer programs. The Smart Volunteering Campaign discourages Australians from any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in overseas orphanages and provides guidelines on how to be a child-safe volunteer. Anyone considering volunteering in this area should visit the Australian Volunteers website.
If you wish to volunteer overseas you can contact the following organisations (please note: not all of the organisations are members of The Centre for Volunteering):
AusAID’s VIDA Program
Volunteering for International Development from Australia (VIDA) places skilled Australian volunteers in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region. VIDA volunteers work with local staff to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development in the communities in which they work through skills exchange, institutional strengthening and capacity building.
Australian Volunteers International
Australian Volunteers International (AVI) is Australia’s largest and most experienced international volunteer sending agency. Every year they recruit, prepare and support hundreds of Australians who volunteer to live alongside people of other cultures and work towards the sustainable development of communities.
Global Vision International
Global Vision International (GVI) was formed in 1998 to provide support and services to international charities, non profits and governmental agencies. Through their international network GVI supports many of the most critical conservation and humanitarian projects around the globe. Make a difference to some of the world’s most critical conservation and community projects with Global Vision International. You can join challenging expeditions as diverse as marine conservation, community development, high altitude exploration and wildlife conservation. Or volunteer with GVI’s partner organisations in over 15 countries – work with indigenous communities, protect turtles, teach, help with animal rehabilitation, plus many more options. Field work placements, internships and jobs in the field are also available.
i-to-i helps more than 5000 volunteers annually to make a significant and ongoing difference, at over 500 locally run projects in 25 countries throughout the developing world. The projects they work with give individuals the chance to participate for 1–24 weeks with community development, wildlife, building, teaching, conservation, sports coaching and work experience programs. While there are no requirements for volunteering on any of i-to-i’s projects, you need to be prepared for just about anything and come with an open mind! Short-term volunteer work is a very rewarding experience, particularly for those who are time poor, but want to give something back.
“The highlight of the trip was working with orphans in the orphanage. Although they had nothing, they were the happiest and most loving kids that I have ever met. They did show that material goods are not the total sum of existence. Yes, dollars are important, but love and caring are of a much greater importance.” Jeff Bilszta traveled to Tanzania with i-to-i.
International Volunteers for Peace (IVP)
IVP is the Australian group of Service Civil International (SCI), a worldwide non-government organisation promoting peace and justice through voluntary work. IVP organises volunteering projects in Australia around worthwhile community needs and causes. IVP also provides a gateway for Australians to participate in over 500 diverse work-camps all across the world.
Since 1961, Palms Australia has been recruiting, preparing, sending and supporting volunteers to meet the needs of requesting communities. Palms Australia is independent of government funding and is therefore able to prioritise building the relationships with its partner communities, which are necessary for achieving sustainable development. Palms volunteers spend two years in placement working alongside local staff in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, sharing their skills and building lasting relationships.
Projects Abroad organises voluntary work placements overseas in the developing world. The placements are based in community projects and include working with disadvantaged children, outreach programmes, teaching English and working on conservation and sustainability projects. This work is carried out across Asia, Africa, South America and in parts of Eastern Europe. The placements are flexible from one to twelve months and offer the opportunity to live as a local with a host family while having a constructive role within the community. All ages are welcome on the projects; commitment, the ability to rise to a challenge and a sense of humour are the most valuable qualifications.
Real Gap Experience
Real Gap are the UK’s largest gap year travel company. Launched in Australia in 2010, Real Gap offers a wide and diverse range of travel experiences in over 30 countries. Whether you want some time out before starting uni, or you are looking to take a career break or sabbatical, Real Gap offer volunteer projects that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Real Gap experiences are from 1 week in duration.
World Youth is a not-for-profit, non-religious and non-political volunteer organisation offering people over 18 the opportunity to help alleviate global poverty and travel in a meaningful way. It has programs in countries including Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos and Peru! You can embark on a project in the areas of primary healthcare, education, sustainable environment and income generation. You don’t need any qualifications – just compassion, commitment and dedication.
Youth Challenge Australia
Youth Challenge Australia is an Australian-based, non-profit, non-government organisation that actively engages Australian youth in community identified projects. Since 1992, YCA has mobilised young volunteers to assist the growth of sustainable and positive development, both internationally and in Indigenous Australia. YCA recruits and trains volunteers to support projects in Indigenous Australia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, India, and Vanuatu. Projects range from 5 to 10 weeks and leave at various times throughout the year.
“The bond that grew between the community, the group and myself will be a lifelong lasting friendship. In the last two months I have been away, I have felt that as a person I have grown and the only downside is that I wished I could have stayed for longer! Hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to go back.” Luke Duffield, Guyana 2009